The Lord Lebedev
|Member of the House of Lords|
|Assumed office |
17 December 2020
Evgeny Alexandrovich Lebedev
8 May 1980
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union (now Russia)
|Relatives||Vladimir Sokolov (grandfather)|
Evgeny Alexandrovich Lebedev, Baron Lebedev (Russian: Евгений Александрович Лебедев, tr. Evgeniy Aleksandrovich Lebedev,[a] pronounced [ɪ̯ɪvˈɡʲenʲɪɪ̯ ˈlʲebʲɪdʲɪf]; born 8 May 1980) is a Russian-British businessman, who owns Lebedev Holdings Ltd, which owns the Evening Standard, The Independent and the TV channel London Live. He is the son of the Russian oligarch and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev.
In July 2020, Lebedev was nominated for a life peerage by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a move that drew criticism. Lebedev has sat in the House of Lords as a crossbench life peer since 19 November 2020. Lebedev was supported at his House of Lords introduction ceremony by Lord Clarke and Lord Bird.
Early life and education
Born in Moscow, Lebedev is the son of Alexander Lebedev, a Russian banker and former officer of the First Chief Directorate of the USSR's KGB and later its successor, the SVR, and his first wife Natalia Sokolova. He moved to London at the age of eight, when his father began working at the KGB rezidentura in the Soviet Embassy.
Lebedev attended St Barnabas and St Philip's Church of England Primary School in Kensington, followed by Holland Park Comprehensive School and Mill Hill School. He then went on to study the history of art at Christie's in London. He has lived in the UK ever since, and became a British citizen (with dual nationality) in 2010.
On 21 January 2009, Evgeny and his father bought a 65% share in the Evening Standard newspaper. The previous owners, Daily Mail and General Trust plc, continue to hold 24.9% of the company. Under the Lebedevs' ownership, it became a free newspaper in October 2009; circulation tripled immediately to 700,000.
On 25 March 2010, just weeks before it was due to close, Lebedev bought The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. On 26 October, the i newspaper was launched, the first national daily newspaper to be launched in the UK since The Independent in 1986, at a time of falling newspaper circulations and title closures worldwide. In 2011, he launched The Journalism Foundation, to promote "free and independent journalism throughout the world", although it was closed down after a year.
In February 2016, it was announced that Independent Press Ltd had reached an agreement to sell the i to Johnston Press, and that The Independent would become digital-only from March 2016. In 2019, it was reported that Lebedev sold a 30% stake in the publications to a private Saudi investor. After a second regulator concluded no investigation was necessary, Ofcom judged that the sale had not led to "any influence" on the news outlets controlled by the British-Russian businessman.
Other business interests, real estate, and political influence
Lebedev co-owns The Grapes, a riverside pub in Limehouse, London, with Sir Ian McKellen and Sean Mathias, and he purchased the Château Gütsch in Lucerne, Switzerland in 2012, before turning it into a luxury hotel-restaurant.
He has been reported to own a flat in central London near Regent's Park as well as the Grade II-listed mansion Stud House in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, and two large properties within 11 miles of each other, in the Umbrian countryside, Italy.
He had maintained close friendship with Boris Johnson since the late 2000s, with Lebedev's Evening Standard going all out in support of Johnson as the Mayor of London. Johnson has been reported to have attended vodka and caviar parties hosted by Alexander and Evgeny Lebedevs at different locations in the UK as well as in Italy multiple times throughout the 2010s. Their relationship caused concern in the UK's security circles who assessed both Johnson and Lebedev as security risks. According to a media report, the evaluation Evgeny Lebedev as a security risk changed in June 2020, the decision allegedly having been pushed through by the Cabinet Office officials.
In July 2020, he was nominated for a life peerage by prime minister Johnson in the 2020 Political Honours, The Guardian calling his "a surprise name among the 36 life peerage nominations which have led to accusations of 'cronyism' against the prime minister", and Mark Galeotti opining the move indicated Johnson's eagerness "to show contempt for Britain's intelligence agencies." Lebedev has sat in the House of Lords as a crossbench life peer since 19 November 2020 with the title Baron Lebedev, of Hampton in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and of Siberia in the Russian Federation. He made his maiden speech during the Queen's speech debate on 12 May 2021.
Lebedev is the patron of the Evening Standard's Dispossessed Fund, which helps to address poverty in London, and has raised over £13m since its launch in 2010. In 2018, he launched #AIDSFree, a cross-title campaign between The Independent and Evening Standard to raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. In 2019, he announced that both newspapers' would launch a multiple-year campaign to tackle homelessness in London and around the world.
Since the coronavirus lockdown began in the United Kingdom, Lebedev's news titles appealed in partnership with food surplus charity The Felix Project to supply food to vulnerable people, frontline charities and NHS hospitals. In December 2020, the 'Food for London Now' appeal announced that it had surpassed its £10 million target and delivered 20 million meals.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Lebedev previously dated British actress Joely Richardson. While he does not confirm rumours about his homosexuality, which earnt him the nickname Two Beards coined by Private Eye, he is said not to mind people thinking so, according to media reports.
Lebedev collects modern British art, and owns pieces by Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Jake and Dinos Chapman. According to the New Statesman, he also has a wide knowledge of Renaissance art and vorticist poetry. He had a pet wolf called Boris, named after the former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
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